University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Author: Robert Sharer

Remembering Bill Coe (1926-2009)


By: Robert Sharer

Dr. William R. Coe, Curator Emeritus of the American Section and Professor Emeritus in the Anthropology Department, was something of a legend within the Museum’s American Section. He learned his archaeology at Penn (B.A. 1950, M.A. 1953, and Ph.D. 1958), joined the Penn faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1959, and became an Assistant Curator at […]

Copan Altar Q

By: Robert Sharer

Altar Q was dedicated by Copan’s 16th ruler, Yax Pasaj Chan Yopaat in 776 CE. The four sides of this carved stone display the portraits of all 16 Copan rulers seated on thrones formed by their name glyphs. The sequence begins with the dynastic founder, K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, whose name is in his headdress […]

Who Were the Maya?

By: Robert Sharer

The ancient Maya created one of the world’s most brilliant and successful civilizations. But 500 years ago, after the Spaniards “discovered” the Maya, many could not believe that Native Americans had developed cities, writing, art, and other hallmarks of civilization. Consequently, 16th century Europeans readily accepted the myth that the Maya and other indigenous civilizations […]

Time of Kings and Queens

By: Robert Sharer

The origins of maya kings can be traced back to the Middle Preclassic period (ca. 1000–500 BCE). Archaeology reveals the beginnings of Maya civilization during this span with evidence for rulers of small independent polities, the first great temples and other large-scale constructions, evidence for warfare, trade in status goods, and the earliest stone monuments. […]